About Myers-Briggs

Okay, so odds are you have typed in ENTP in Google, in which case you’re already familiar with Myers-Briggs. However, there is also a very good possibility you’re hearing about it for the first time. In that case, let me tell you a thing or two about it.

Myers-Briggs is an instrument aiming to understand human personalities. It is created by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers and it’s rooted into Jungian psychology.

Myers-Briggs distinguishes between 16 personality types. Each type is constructed by a combination of four dichotomies:

  • Introvert vs Extravert
  • Intuitive vs Sensing
  • Thinking vs Feeling
  • Perceiving vs Judging

Why Myers-Briggs is cool

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of tests and I don’t particularly like being pigeonholed (mostly because I often feel like I don’t fit in anywhere). However, for me, this system is different. Reading the ENTP-description I really felt like someone was describing me as a person. Every single little thing fit in. I tried the test on several friends and they had similar responses: whoa, this is so creepily accurate! That being said, I also know some people who don’t fit in with any of the types. That’s perfectly okay, of course, and I have a theory on why this happens, but I’ll get to that.

Now that you’ve read that, you might feel the need to instantly look up an online test and take it. I would strongly recommend against it and here’s why: online tests focus on broad audiences. For this exact reason, they ask multiple choice questions that aim to translate your desire and behavior into “who” you are. However, they don’t (they can’t!) take into account your situation and background, which tend to strongly influence your answers. That’s not even taking into account the fact a lot of people give socially desirable answers.

I’ve set up a super simple four-question test that gives me and my environment surprisingly accurate results. Go ahead and try it! If you’re hesitant about something, feel free to share your answers to the questions and we’ll get to the bottom of it together.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, first, let’s look at the four dichotomies that determine your type.

The four axes

  1. The first axis, your attitude, is Introverts vs Extroverts. This has nothing to do with your social skills, but everything with the way you feel when you interact with the world. Introverts get their energy by spending time alone, while Extroverts get theirs by spending time with people.
  2. The second axis, your first function, is Sensing vs Intuitive. Sensing people rely on well… their senses (despite the badly chosen name of this blog, I’m not actually Sensing in the sense (no pun intended, really!) attributed to the word by Myers-Briggs). So the stuff they see, hear, smell, feel. Intuitive types, on the other hand, often rely on less tangible things, such as their gut feeling.
  3. The third axis, your second function, is Thinking vs Feeling and this axis is all about the way you approach decisions. Do you focus on what’s logical? Or do you focus on people and their feelings?
  4. Finally, the last axis, your lifestyle preference, is Judging vs Perceiving. This axis determines whether your second axis is stronger than your third axis, or the other way around. Judging types like clarity, while Perceiving types like to keep their options open.

Each of the functions can be either introverted or extraverted (for example, Feeling can become either Fi or Fe, which are used differently), which is determined by your attitude and your preferences. For extraverts, their preference determines their primary function. For introverts, their preference determines their auxiliary function. This goes a bit deeper down the rabbit hole, so for now I’m going to just leave it at that and give you some good links at the bottom, so if you want to read more you can do it.

Now for the promised test…

Here are four situations. Your answer to each of the situations determines a letter.

  1. You have had a mentally exhausting day. You come home after a day where everything went wrong. What is your favorite method for recharging?
    1. Staying at home and doing something for yourself (varying from computer games to playing guitar): you get an I for Introvert;
    2. Surrounding yourself with friends: going to a bar, inviting people over for a movies night, anything: you get an E for Extravert.
  2. Your camera is broken. You can’t afford to just throw it away and you do really need it (replace camera with dishwasher or any other thing). How are you going to fix it?
    1. You’re going to see if you can discover what’s wrong, possibly systematically testing everything that can cause the problem: you get a S for Sensing;
    2. You just have a hunch on what might cause the problem and you decide to follow this hunch: you get a N for iNtuitive
  3. Your friend comes to you with a personal problem: their marriage is falling apart. What do you do?
    1. You focus on solving the problem, either through coaching them or suggesting several possible solutions: you get a T for Thinking;
    2. You focus on their feelings and try to make them feel better: you get a F for Feeling (unless you’re focusing on feelings as a means for you to solve their problem, in which case you get a T ;-));
  4. You’re looking for a new place to live and you need to move out. You go to see twenty houses. House nr. 3 is better than what you currently have, but it’s not your dream house. If you continue looking, you have a slight risk someone else will take this house. You won’t end up under a bridge either way, but you might have to choose a place you like less. What do you do? Does the scale tip at any point (say, if it’s house #8 or if it’s house #15)?
    1. Your scale tips towards taking the house on or before house #10 (so, for example if this happens with house #10, you take the place): you get a J for Judging;
    2. Your scale only tips towards taking the house on or after house #11 (so if this happens with house #10, you want to check out more houses first): you get a P for Perceiving.

Okay, you’re done! Now just combine the letters and you get a combination (in my case, this would be ENTP). Now see if you can recognize yourself in the description for your type on 16personalities.com. I don’t like their test, but their descriptions are stellar.

What if it doesn’t fit?

If you don’t recognize yourself in the description, this can have three causes:

  1. One of several of your answers are strongly influenced by your specific situation (for example, you’re a camera mechanic which influences your answer to Q2) or say more of how you would like to act than how you actually act. In this case, see if there’s another type that fits better! This is also a good idea if you just think my test is faulty. Which, honestly, is entirely possible.
  2. You’re in very bad shape. You don’t recognize yourself in any type, because you have no idea what drives you and makes you happy. I’ve seen this with a couple of people who feel so stuck they have no idea who they are. If you feel this might be the case in your scenario, I strongly suggest you pick the type that fits best and then see if the things you don’t recognize yourself in do fit you once you try them. This might just be the way to turn your life around and figure out what you won’t.
  3. You don’t fit into one box. This happens :). Feel free to check out this site anyway, all types are welcome here!

Want to do some more research?

Just type Myers-Briggs or MBTI in Google or check out one of these resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers%E2%80%93Briggs_Type_Indicator

http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/06/if-youre-confused-about-your-myers-briggs-personality-type-read-this-an-intro-to-cognitive-functions/

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/

https://www.16personalities.com/articles/our-theory